On the first day of 2014, Rev. Eric Freed – a Catholic priest serving in Eureka, California – was found dead in his rectory. Local police chief Andy Mills has commenced a murder investigation following the discovery of the priest’s body at approximately 9 AM on January 1 by the church deacon. Currently there are no reported suspects. His 2010 Nissan Altima vehicle is missing.
The website for St Bernard parish now features a cross and the words ‘Rest in Peace’ above Father Freed’s name. Mayor Frank Jager said that the priest was a friend and a valued person in the community.
Father Freed has taught for more than 10 years at Humboldt State University in its religious studies department. He was involved in the Catholic students group on campus and was beloved there. He has been described by fellow faculty members as kind and warm. He had once lived for many years in Japan and was a valued pastor among Japanese-Americans in California.
Local and state law enforcement remained into the night at the parish church in Eureka, a town located 275 miles north of San Francisco.
In a note written to his congregation on the parish website a few days before Christmas, Father Freed wrote "I cannot tell you how proud and honored I am to be your pastor," adding "Our parish is alive, joyful and full of faith, hope and charity that define us as Catholic Christians."